Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler Obtains Guilty Plea in Food Stamp, Medical Assistance Fraud Case
Social services case worker ordered to make restitution
MD ( Aug. 24, 2011) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced that former Baltimore City Department of Social Services employee Denise Summerville Harris, 33, of Baltimore, this week entered a guilty plea in Baltimore City Circuit Court to one count of Public Assistance Fraud. The Honorable M. Brooke Murdock sentenced Harris to a one-year suspended sentence and placed her on two years of supervised probation, during which she is to make restitution in the amount of $5,287.00.
“Public assistance benefits are there for the families who truly need them,” said Attorney General Gansler. “Those who abuse the system harm every taxpaying Marylander and our neighbors facing difficult times under difficult circumstances.”
An investigation was opened in October 2010 after allegations surfaced that Harris, a Department of Social Services case worker, was not including her husband’s income on her food stamp and medical assistance applications. Investigators confirmed that Harris’s husband had been gainfully employed for over two years even though his income was not reported on Harris’s public assistance applications.
By withholding this information, Harris was able to procure benefits she would not have otherwise been qualified to receive. Ms. Harris originally denied the allegations but later admitted to falsifying her public assistance applications and acknowledged she should have included her husband’s income but she wanted the extra subsidies.
This case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Criminal Division and the Maryland State Police with assistance from the Maryland Department of Human Resources’ Office of the Inspector General. In making his announcement today, Attorney General Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General Megan Davey Limarzi and Maryland State Police Sgt. John Casey for their work on the case.